Sunday Oliseh discusses John Obi Mikel, Jay Jay Okocha in new interview

Former Super Eagles captain and manager Sunday Oliseh has recently spoken about his time in the national team as manager and coach.

Oliseh and Emmanuel Babayaro went on The Athletes Podcast hosted by Matthew Edafe and talked about the Super Eagles under Jose Peseiro. In the discussion, his time as captain and later as manager came to the fore.

He talked about how it was playing with one of the most recognisable Super Eagles ever, Augustine “Jay-Jay” Okocha, and how the midfield maestro's dribbling would sometimes get under his and others' skins.

“With Jay-Jay, most people would say he was a difficult player to play with, as teammates, as defensive players,” Oliseh said on the podcast. “But I personally had a way, an understanding with Jay-Jay that made it easy for me to play with him.

“There was one particular game; I’ll share a story with you. We were playing and Jay-Jay was doing his normal thing and Nigerian fans were going crazy. In our team, as much as we disagreed, every player was a king in their position.

“We had match winners – most of the players could win games but if someone did something bad in the group, the defenders always tell me, ‘Sunday tell am o’.

‘I prefer Ndidi to Mikel Obi' – Oliseh

The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder also spoke about one of the most controversial decisions he made as manager of the Super Eagles – keeping John Obi Mikel on the bench.

Oliseh's time as manager was popular not for his achievements on the pitch but for a number of his decisions and fallouts with players and personnel of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).

In one of his decisions, he chose to play home-based Paul Onobi ahead of Mikel in the holding role for the Super Eagles. Oliseh explained his decision on the podcast as a tactical one, while stating that Mikel is not as good as Wilfred Ndidi, Nigeria's current first choice in the role and that the former Super Eagles captain would still not make any squad he manages.

“He's a player who's done some good with Chelsea,” Oliseh said. “But when you talk about playing as an offensive midfielder, he is not an offensive midfielder. My man here [Babayaro] knows I'm blunt to say certain things.

“Offensive midfielders have certain qualities and he doesn't have them.”

He continued: “As regards as a defensive midfielder, I think he's useful but I won't play him. I'll play Ndidi because a defensive midfielder's work is you have to win balls without making fouls. You have to be very good in aerial balls. You have to have some control by helping others.

“I'll prefer to play Ndidi.”

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 week ago

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